7 Healthy Habits for Remote Workers

1. Move it

With fewer workplace distractions at hand, the lone remote ranger tends to lock down on tasks. That means that it’s easier to get stuck in your chair. “Deskercize” is a great way to take a break between ultra-focused work sessions.

There are no co-workers to get up and speak to, much less a break room to stand around. And sitting down for hours on end is bad for your circulation, digestion, and back. So, stand up! Run in place, or get down for some crunches or push-ups. Working your abs can help prevent back pain.

If your feet feel swollen, try the legs-up-the-wall pose: lay down on your back facing a wall, put your legs in the air with the bottoms of your feet toward the ceiling, and rest your heels against it, scooting forward as far as is comfortable or until the backs of your legs are touching the wall. The wall will support your legs as your circulation is rebooted by gravity (bonus: it helps relieve lower back pain, too).

2. Socialize

One of the few drawbacks of remote work is that it can get lonely. But on the flip side, you have more flexibility than the average office worker to step away from your work or choose your own work environment. So make a point to plan coffee or lunch dates with your friends who have flexible hours. Or venture out to work alongside other Internet-dependent folks in a coffee shop or Internet cafe. Resources like Workfrom can help you find spots recommended by other remote workers. You can search by location or feature (like “fast wifi” or “has power”).

3. Stay Positive

Without a boss over your shoulder or co-workers sitting nearby, it’s easy to feel like you’re in your own little world. Frustrations or challenges at work can feel more personal or harder to “leave at the office.”

Feedback or recognition for a job well done might be less frequent and your contributions might be less visible than in an office environment. So it’s important to believe in yourself. Remember why you chose to work from home and be grateful that you’re not sitting under fluorescent lights in a cubicle.

Every job has its ups and downs, and even if you can’t always feel happy about the way work is going, you can strive to stay positive. Looking for more encouragement? 

4. Eat Well

Never underestimate the power of a good meal—brain power, that is. We’ve all experienced the energy rush or drowsiness that certain foods can cause. But did you know that spikes and drops in your blood sugar can directly affect your cognitive performance and productivity?

It’s not only food that makes a difference in fueling your brain. Dehydration has been linked to poor planning skills, so make sure to drink plenty of water (and take it easy on the coffee)!

5. Take Care of Your Eyes

When you spend all day in front of screens, your eyes (and more) can suffer for it: dryness, headaches, even a stiff neck or shoulders. That’s why getting into the habit of following the 20–20–20 rule is a good idea for workers who spend most of their time on a computer. It’s simple: take your eyes off your screen every 20 minutes and stare at a focal point at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

One of the reasons looking at digital devices for too long irritates your eyes because of the blue light they emit. Much as been written about the negative effects of this type of light: it disrupts sleep, can damage vision, and nighttime exposure may contribute to other health risks like cancer and diabetes.

If you’re one of the many remote workers who likes to work into the evening, F.lux can help. It’s free software that you can download to calibrate your screen according to the time of day—cool and bright during the day and warmer in the evening and at night to counteract the blue light. All you have to do is enter your zip code and preferred wake-up time, and it gradually shifts the color temperature of your screen throughout the day. You can even adjust the color temperature of its three stages (daytime, sunset, and bedtime) to your personal preference.

6. Learn to Say No

Maintaining healthy boundaries is a challenge for any worker, but it can be a struggle for someone who works from home (especially if they have a family). It’s important to stay focused to do good work, and that focus comes from saying no to certain things—whether distractions like social media and “cyberloafing” or well-meaning requests from friends and family who think you have nothing on your schedule since you work from home. Learn to say no, to yourself and to others, and your work and your sanity will thank you.

Even though there’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of the flexibility of a work-from-home job, it’s still important to maintain a healthy work-life balance—from setting priorities and boundaries to taking breaks and carving out personal and social time.

7. Create a Productive Workspace

It’s important to carve out a designated space where you work in your home. You can always break up the monotony by going to a library or coffee shop, but ideally you need a separate home office (even if it’s just a table or corner of a room set aside for work) to help you separate your life from your job.

Whatever helps you feel focused and motivated (a comfortable chair, the ability to stand while you work, music, etc.), make sure you have access to it in that space. Having a designated workspace to go to when it’s time to get down to business gives you a mental and physical trigger that it’s time to go into “work mode” and helps you resist distractions.